Ottery childrens centre plans spark police car fears

PLANS for an Ottery children s centre have been labelled a recipe for disaster by concerned town officials who fear proposals could see youngsters sharing access to the site with fast-response police cars.

PLANS for an Ottery children's centre have been labelled a "recipe for disaster" by concerned town officials who fear proposals could see youngsters sharing access to the site with fast-response police cars.

Devon County Council (DCC) has vowed to have a "one-stop-shop" where children from Ottery and its surrounding villages under five years old and their families can receive a range of services up and running from a building in the grounds of the Marist Convent by April next year.

On Monday, members of Ottery town council's planning committee backed the concept of a children's centre but raised fears over how parents and tots would access the Covent site, which from this summer, will also house the town's neighbourhood policing team. Pedestrian access has been earmarked for Tip Hill, however, the Broad Street entrance to the site is also highlighted in plans.

Cllr Tony Abbott said: "It's a recipe for disaster. You will have four fast response police cars next door driving out of there."

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"Access should be through Tip Hill only and not anywhere there (Broad Street) at all. Children could be running around there all the time."

Cllr Ian Holmes said it was nice to see the building kept in public ownership and good for Ottery to have a children's facility in its centre.

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However, he labelled the notion of children being anywhere near the police cars as "inconceivable", saying: "It must be a safe area so they (children) can't get in the police part".

The site has been earmarked to serve areas in the Ottery parish including West Hill, Tipton, Alfington and Feniton, but the fact it will sport only three car-parking spaces sparked further traffic and parking concerns among councillors.

Cllr Claire Wright backed the principle of the project. She said: "Ottery is the most central place for access. This is a really positive thing, there is a need for it. There are issues about access but this is something I would wholeheartedly support and I'm sure local families and local people would as well."

Children's centres aim to offer information, advice and support to parents and carers, as well as integrated childcare and early learning, health services, family support, parental outreach and employment advice.

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